Mini-Review: Dance of the Dead (2005)

Starring Jonathan Tucker, Jessica Lowndes, Ryan McDonald, Marilyn Norry, Lucie Guest, Robert Englund, Emily Anne Graham, Genevieve Buechner, Margot Berner, Sharon Heath

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Expectations: Low. This one just looks shitty.

So far Showtime’s Masters of Horror is following an “every other” pattern, where every other movie/episode is shit. I’m only three shows in though, so perhaps it isn’t fair to call it a pattern. In any case, I had all kinds of red flags before I even began watching this one. I haven’t seen a lot of Tobe Hooper’s films, and what I have seen has all been drawn from his early work: Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist, Salem’s Lot. If this episode is any indication, he’s lost that youthful spark he once had, constructing one of the most unenjoyable films I’ve seen in a while. It reminds me a lot of modern horror where the filmmakers do whatever they can to push the envelope, but do so without any motive other than to push the envelope. There’s edgy and interesting, and then there’s quasi-edgy and awful. I’ll give you one guess where I feel this one lies.

This is the kind of shit self-important teenagers looking to rebel from their Christian parents will enjoy, because it throws an endless assault of profanity, titties, and leather at you, without any rhyme or reason. The film is deliberately trying for the style over substance method, but it forgets early on that for this to work, the style must be flawless and intoxicating. Again, maybe if I was a rebellious teen. Adapted from a short story by Richard Matheson, Dance of the Dead further convinces me that either Matheson isn’t the genre visionary everyone makes him out to be or I just need to stop watching shitty adaptations of his stories and read some of the original source material. I should hope that his story was a little more coherent and meaningful than this piece of shit, because there’s very little here to care about. There is something of a good twist ending, but it’s not even enough to make me say “too little too late.”

This is by far the ugliest of the Masters of Horror episodes as well, only bettered by the horrid editing. Hooper continually uses a flickering effect to create the illusion of an interesting occurrence, coupled with shaky camera and quick editing. It is the ultimate sensory assault, and one that belittles the audience at every turn. I hated this one a lot more than Incident On and Off a Mountain Road, which doesn’t seem so bad when compared to this. If nothing else, I’m fairly certain that the series as a whole can only go up from here… at least, I sure hope so.

Teenage Space Vampires (1999)

Starring Robin Dunne, Mac Fyfe, James Kee, Lindy Booth, Jesse Nilsson, Richard Clarkin, Bianca Brad, Serban Celea, Tatiana Constantin, Dan Badarau

Directed by Martin Wood

Expectations: Moderate. Hopefully this is up to par with Mysterious Museum.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

With a name like Teenage Space Vampires, one would expect imaginations to run wild with all kinds of fucked up alien hybrids and intergalactic mayhem. Sadly, this isn’t the case. There’s very little to get behind in this one, so little in fact that by the end of the eighty minute runtime, I was thoroughly exhausted. The film literally bit me on the neck and sucked all of my lifeblood out, and it takes a pretty bad flick to do that to a hard-boiled critic like myself.

Teenage newspaper delivery kid Bill Swenson sees a strange UFO one night. It’s more strange due to the FX used than anything else, causing the viewer to have major WTF issues and ask what they’re looking at instead of marveling at the wondrous occurrence happening before their eyes. Anyway, the next day on his paper route he sees a crazy spaceship-looking monument in the backyard of a neighbor. The crazy old lady there tells him to move along, but he knows something’s up.

Continue reading Teenage Space Vampires (1999) →

Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (2004)

Starring Corey Feldman, Vanessa Angel, Danielle Keaton, Silvia Suvadova, Nikoli Sotirov, Dessislava Maicheva, Velizar Binev, Angelina Hadjimitova, Anton Falk

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Six Shooter, Baby Oopsy Daisy, Jack Attack, Grizzly Teddy

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Extremely low, this is a knock-off Puppet Master movie made for the Sci-Fi channel. There’s no way it’s good.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Finally, the moment Full Moon fans have waited for! Two giant Full Moon franchises collide in an epic tale of good vs. evil! Except instead of Full Moon, the Sci-Fi Channel produced it and it’s awful? Yep, sad but true. It does have Corey Feldman if that sweetens the deal any… yeah, didn’t think it would. Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys is a non-canon tale of the two groups meeting up, aping a bit of both series’ mythology and combining everything into a jumbled mess. Corey Feldman is Robert Toulon, a descendant of the puppet master who is trying to perfect the puppet animation formula. Meanwhile the head of Sharpe Toys wants to capture the toys for some reason that isn’t entirely clear (even after watching the entire film), and she also has made a deal with Bael to handover Toulon’s blood to fulfill some ancient pact.

Continue reading Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (2004) →

The Gingerdead Man (2005)

Starring Robin Sydney, Ryan Locke, Alexia Aleman, Jonathan Chase, Maggie Blye, Daniela Melgoza, Newell Alexander, James Snyder, Larry Cedar, Gary Busey

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate. Killer cookie, sounds good enough.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Sorry Charlie, this movie sucks. I don’t even know where to begin, but when I started having flashbacks to Thankskilling, I knew I wasn’t in friendly waters. The Gingerdead Man isn’t quite as bad as that awful killer turkey movie, but it does share a lot of qualities. The Gingerdead Man himself is a puppet that’s killing people while unleashing mildly amusing profanity-laden quips, and while they’re better written than Thankskilling‘s, they are just as facepalm-inducing. You would think that the man who literally created the killer puppet genre could wrench out a better film than this, but I suppose when you’ve made about forty in the genre you’re allowed a dud once in a while.

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End of the World (1977)

Starring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey, Liz Ross

Directed by John Hayes

Expectations: Low, but it has Christopher Lee so that’s something.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Plainly put, End of the World is awful. Just wanted to get that out of the way. It’s awful in one of the worst ways a movie can be awful too. It’s excruciatingly boring. So boring that the entire film is summed up within the Netflix summary paragraph, leaving out only minor occurrences. Next to nothing happens in this one, but surprisingly the movie ends on such a high note that I can’t help but think back fondly on the experience. This is the other 1977 film about first contact with alien lifeforms, and actually was released a few months before the more famous film.

Continue reading End of the World (1977) →

Monsturd (2003)

Starring Paul Weiner, Beth West, Dan Burr, Brad Dosland, Dan West, Rick Popko, Hannah Stangel

Directed by Rick Popko & Dan West

Expectations: My expectations were flushed before I even considered watching this.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

I’m not going to beat around the bush, this is one big piece of shit. Monsturd tells the touching story of a prison escapee who falls into the wrong vat of goo and emerges as a giant shit monster. I’m getting ahead of myself though. First, the movie sets itself up as a fairy tale with a little girl waking up from a bad dream. Her father comes to check up on her and when he proposes to tell her a calming story, she refuses and tells him a story of her own. The story of an evil doctor employed by DuTech who unleashes a shit-storm of bad vibes on the town of Butte County, CA by dumping a shitload of toxic waste into the sewer system. When the escaped convict gets trapped in the sewer and falls into the goo he is reduced to nothing more than a bloody skeleton. OR SO THEY THOUGHT!

A man and his wife fight over cleaning the toilet. The wife insists that the husband gets his ass down there and cleans up his own shit. He does so, but as he’s plunging the toilet the shit monster comes up behind him and murders him. The scene is truly awful and laughable but not as funny as you might expect. When the cops come to investigate they see the calling card of the convict, a written message on the bathroom wall. It says, “Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down!” in, you guessed it, shit.

Continue reading Monsturd (2003) →

Zombieland (2009)

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Mike White, Bill Murray

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Expectations: Lowest possible. Modern zombie movies generally rub me the wrong way, but I’m stupid and I keep watching them.

This is not a zombie movie. I repeat, this is not a zombie movie. If you love traditional zombie films such as the George Romero classics, you are better off just re-watching one of those. From what the film shows us, hardly any zombies inhabit Zombieland. Most of the “excitement” coming from the fights and betrayals that play out between the male and female survivors. Even the apocalypse cannot settle the battle of the sexes. All kidding aside, this is absolutely the antithesis of what a good zombie movie should be. It is a stupid attempt at making a zombie comedy, but instead of being clever (like Shaun of the Dead) this just disappoints repeatedly.

Rarely is the survival of the characters an issue and therein lies the problem. Survival should be the main theme of any zombie tale because the zombie horde is ever-growing and as one of the last remaining humans you must constantly tap into the primal instincts of fight or flight. Your nerves fray as you know that sooner or later, you will become one of them. None of that comes into play in Zombieland. Sure, the main character has these survival rules he’s constantly telling the viewer about, but the rules are nothing more than fluff to draw your attention away from the almost complete lack of honest zombie danger.

Continue reading Zombieland (2009) →

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